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Old 03-04-2015, 01:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

The terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE, accused of being national security threats!

Hmmm. Anybody recently plane spot in UAE? Cheers! T7 (plane spotter junkie!)

Three middle-aged English plane spotters have been arrested in the United Arab Emirates, accused of being threats to national security. The three men— Conrad Clitheroe, Gary Cooper and Neil Munro — were near the Fujairah airport, watching rare (at least to plane spotters) aircraft take off and land when they were confronted by an off-duty police official.

According to the UAE authorities, the men were seen using a telescope, writing down information about the aircraft (as plane spotters — like birdwatchers — have a tendency to do) and taking pictures. But Clitheroe’s wife, Valerie, disputes that version of the story, insisting that her husband would never take photographs near an airport. She told The Guardian

fficeffice" />>>
We were just totally shocked when we heard [of his arrest] and couldn’t believe it was true. They would never do anything that would risk national security. They weren’t taking pictures. They didn’t realize plane spotting was such an issue.>>

Radha Stirling, of the charity Detained in Dubai, echoes Clitheroe’s sentiments, pointing out that plane spotting is NOT illegal in the UAE. But obviously it’s neither understood nor appreciated by the authorities there.

He said: >>
The families are in obvious distress at how a simple and common hobby behavior can turn into a prison ordeal>>
And it is an ordeal. The men have been in prison for ten days; they were arrested and detained on February 22 which, ironically, was the day that they were scheduled to leave the country. According to Clitheroe, the men were taken into custody and forced to sign a document written in Arabic that they were told was an apology for plane spotting and a promise not to do it again. They were then taken to the Fujairah prison, and stuffed into a cell with 20 other men. Clitheroe says that the men have been told that they’re being transferred to Abu Dhabi, which she has interpreted as an ominous sign that they won’t soon be released.

In 2002, twelve British plane spotters were imprisoned in Greece for six weeks before being put on trial for spying. They faced three years in prison, but were cleared of the charges and released.>>
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

Even spotting at DXB is quite risky, people don't realize that as western as Dubai is, it still is run & ruled with strict middle eastern rule on certain aspects.
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Old 03-04-2015, 11:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

Pff, that's nothing. In China, plane-spotting gets you dead!


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Old 03-05-2015, 12:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

I along with two others recently visited that airport in question in Fujairah UAE and there are signs all around perimeter road that forbid photography..We went inside the airport and tried to speak to anyone of authority who would listen and the answer was a flat out NO. What a shame as there are dozens of very rare and unusual aircraft stored out in the fields...707's 727's old UAL 727's in saul bass schemes, 747's IL-86 IL-62 and lots more..On the backside of the airport is a perimeter road with a perfect unobstructed view all along the entire distance of the field. I videotaped from inside our rental with my cell phone and there were no police present. Knowing what I now know I probably would not have done that..
Ironically the next day at Dubai airport, on a perimeter road we were filming in an area with a great view of the action and were confronted by the local dubai police and they made us erase all the pictures and let us go..(they had a cheesy new range rover, no Veyron, Lambo or Ferrari lol)

the hotel in Dubal had a great roof top terrace to film and watch the A380 flotilla of constant departures just like SW 737's departing from Love field..The reggie spotters from the UK were there too..On our last day signs were posted now making all photography forbidden!

As a final note I have spent lots of time at the airport in Schenzen that Dylan mentioned above too and I know that area where the accident happened..crazy stuff! there are no driving rules at that airport. No one pays any attention to any traffic control devices and I have ridden in cabs that frequently use the sidewalk as an alternative to the road leading into that airport...
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Old 03-05-2015, 01:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

What a shame as there is some rare and cool aviation to see out there, I think some people probably forget where they are sometimes though...despite all the shopping malls, skyscrapers and enormous foreign labour, UAE is still well and truly conservative Arab turf...and those boys don't mess around!
Still, I hope that these guys are released soon, its not like they were doing anything too idiotic, like messing with drugs or anything.
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Old 03-05-2015, 01:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

While UAE is very liberal in contrast to the countries around them, they are still a very conservative country. While I think it's awful that they ban aviation photography there isn't much people can do about it other than "suck it up".
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Old 03-05-2015, 06:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

The UAE is basically all show and no substance.



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Old 03-05-2015, 09:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CathayPacific View Post
Even spotting at DXB is quite risky, people don't realize that as western as Dubai is, it still is run & ruled with strict middle eastern rule on certain aspects.
Agreed. Would not advise couples (BF & GF) from displaying any PDA while in Dubai. Showing PDA could land you in jail if the authorities ask if the couple are actually married?

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Pff, that's nothing. In China, plane-spotting gets you dead!


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Damn! That is totally disturbing, but so TRUE! Glad we can plane spot in relative safe conditions w/o getting killed or being arrested. Hope that these 3 gents are soon released and in good health.

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Originally Posted by crownvic View Post
What a shame as there are dozens of very rare and unusual aircraft stored out in the fields...707's 727's old UAL 727's in saul bass schemes, 747's IL-86 IL-62 and lots more..On the backside of the airport is a perimeter road with a perfect unobstructed view all along the entire distance of the field. I videotaped from inside our rental with my cell phone and there were no police present. Knowing what I now know I probably would not have done that..


As a final note I have spent lots of time at the airport in Schenzen that Dylan mentioned above too and I know that area where the accident happened..crazy stuff! there are no driving rules at that airport. No one pays any attention to any traffic control devices and I have ridden in cabs that frequently use the sidewalk as an alternative to the road leading into that airport...
Oh man! That's like taking a time machine back into the past to have the opportunity to see those historic airframes! Very jealous!


It must suck to be a pedestrian in China; every day could be your last day when you venture out walking in those driving conditions!

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What a shame as there is some rare and cool aviation to see out there, I think some people probably forget where they are sometimes though...despite all the shopping malls, skyscrapers and enormous foreign labour, UAE is still well and truly conservative Arab turf...and those boys don't mess around!
Still, I hope that these guys are released soon, its not like they were doing anything too idiotic, like messing with drugs or anything.
Lest not forget the thousands of 3rd world laborers that have perished building all those hi rise towers in the UAE during the past 15 years.

I was watching an episode of mega airport Dubai, and they came across some potential drug mule; the narrator of the show = if this passenger is caught with drugs, his fate will be fatal = execution is the penalty! That sort of hit me with them not messing around with drugs.

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Originally Posted by mjabbasi View Post
The UAE is basically all show and no substance.
I did stay in Dubai for an overnight layover a few years back; and had that feeling myself. But, I don't think I had the opportunity to really explore the 'real' dubai; the things that were before the glitzy buildings, etc..

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Old 03-06-2015, 07:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

I believe even the North Koreans are more sympathetic to spotters then the UAE
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Old 03-06-2015, 08:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

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Pff, that's nothing. In China, plane-spotting gets you dead!


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Attachment 102138

Well this is the world we live in now, they have to be this strict because of Osama and his mates. In fact I'm surprised they allow plane spotting at any airport at all anymore, it more or less should be banded purely because who knows who or why they are doing it because the authorities don't know you from a bar of soap

It's like tourists take photos at train stations, they could be taking harmless photos or planning and attack

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Old 03-06-2015, 08:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

Last time we were in LA,we went spotting for a few hours. Of course,the In-N-Out burgers was great. Drove down a few service roads. LA airport police stopped and actually said to us: "They can't believe how many people like airplanes". They knew we were harmless. They just asked us not to enter any areas clearly posted.
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Old 03-07-2015, 09:43 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

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Last time we were in LA,we went spotting for a few hours. Of course,the In-N-Out burgers was great. Drove down a few service roads. LA airport police stopped and actually said to us: "They can't believe how many people like airplanes". They knew we were harmless. They just asked us not to enter any areas clearly posted.
Certain airports here in the US encourage planespotting (LAX and ORD to name a couple) and others don't like it for reasons unknown (BDL, any Port Authority airport like JFK/LGA/EWR).
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Old 03-08-2015, 03:12 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

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Agreed. Would not advise couples (BF & GF) from displaying any PDA while in Dubai. Showing PDA could land you in jail if the authorities ask if the couple are actually married?
Agreed, definitely don't show any PDA even if married, it just opens the door for trouble. Also it's really tough for a BF & GF to visit Dubai together as by law they would need separate hotel rooms based on the laws there. I could go on forever about Dubai, lots of strict rules that aren't well known.

In HKG spotting is very much encouraged, there is an excellent sky terrace on the roof of T2 which on weekends is absolutely packed, there is usually about 15-20 people up there almost all day, really great atmosphere if you want to go and talk aviation with knowledgable people. Also the authorities won't bother you spotting at other locations around the airport as long as you aren't doing anything too dumb. YVR very relaxed on spotting as well, but I have been talked to by the authorities on a few occasions which led to nothing.

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Old 03-08-2015, 11:59 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

I got similar experience back in 2006 in RAK. Airbus A380 was doing hot weather test there. I was spotting outside a fence of the airprot. I was invited to airport police station by two policemen. They said I entered into a restricted area. After checking my driving licence and identity, they let me go without condition. My camera and files were safe. They were nice guys
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Old 03-08-2015, 12:12 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

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Even spotting at DXB is quite risky, people don't realize that as western as Dubai is, it still is run & ruled with strict middle eastern rule on certain aspects.
Spotting in DXB can be fun. I used to do it in the carpark next to the Royal departure hall. Other places are fligthpaths in Murdif areas (and around the desret)
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Old 03-09-2015, 01:09 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

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Spotting in DXB can be fun. I used to do it in the carpark next to the Royal departure hall. Other places are fligthpaths in Murdif areas (and around the desret)
True, spotting at DXB seems to be hassle free if your away from the airport a bit.
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Old 03-11-2015, 11:38 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

Latest update for these 3 plane spotters: (serious cash is being handed over to the authorities at the moment, and trying to raise more funds for them). The 3 gentlemen look like upstanding citizens. Hope they are released soon.

Families of jailed Dubai planespotters forking out nearly £10,000 in legal fees - Manchester Evening News
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Old 03-11-2015, 11:43 PM   #18 (permalink)
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DUBAI // Three British citizens arrested while observing planes near Fujairah airport are likely to be moved to Abu Dhabi in the next few days.

Plane-spotting hobbyists Conrad Clitheroe, 54, Gary Cooper, 45, and Neil Munro were arrested for reasons of national security on February 22 when they were found taking notes about planes near the airport.

Currently, the three men have been placed in a cell with 20 other prisoners in Fujairah jail.
“We’ve been told that they may be moved this week or the next to Abu Dhabi,” said Mr Clitheroe’s wife Valerie, from Manchester, who spoke to her husband on Tuesday.
She continues to be worried about his health since he no longer has medication required for a heart condition and high blood pressure.

“A doctor has seen him in prison and given him some tablets but it’s not the same as he usually takes and he is missing one table that he takes every day. He sounded really low, fed up and sad and wanted to find out what was happening about the case. He was worried about how much it would cost.”

Legal fees would amount to £4,500 (Dh25,300) per person, she said.
“We’ve got a little bit of savings and will have to use that but we will also need to borrow money,” Mrs Clitheroe said.

The men have also asked relatives if reading material could be sent to them.
A clerk at a Manchester logistics firm, Mr Clitheroe travelled with Mr Cooper to Dubai on February 18 on a tourist visa.

They stayed in a Dubai hotel for two nights and then with former colleague Neil Munro, a Dubai resident. The three men travelled to Fujairah to see older and rarer aircraft on February 21 and were detained that evening by police.

Mr Clitheroe and Mr Cooper were due to return home on February 22, the day of their arrest.

Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai, a non-profit group that has taken up their case, said news that the men would be transferred to Abu Dhabi meant they may be held for longer.

“The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) UK have advised that authorities in the UAE said that they would move the men to Abu Dhabi either this week or next, confirming that they will clearly be detained for longer,” she said.

The group has arranged for a lawyer to meet the men to expedite their release.
The men had earlier told relatives that they did not take any photographs of planes near Fujairah airport since they were aware it was not permitted.

When police examined the men’s belongings, they had found iPads, phones and cameras but not photographs, Ms Stirling said.

Plane spotters take photographs, make notes of registration numbers of aircraft and helicopters and compile the markings and logos.

Plane-spotting websites warn hobbyists that they could run into trouble if they take photographs at airports in the UAE, ranging from police checks, seizure of equipment or imprisonment.
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Old 03-12-2015, 08:57 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

The ridiculous part of all this is that they should've been let go once it was determined that no harm was done and that there wasn't any intent to commit a criminal act.
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Old 03-12-2015, 09:32 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

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The ridiculous part of all this is that they should've been let go once it was determined that no harm was done and that there wasn't any intent to commit a criminal act.
I agree with you on that. However, things operate a little bit differently in that part of the globe . Now look at all the sad/painful events that have transpired to these men and their loved ones back home. I don't know if the UAE are making an example of these 3 plane spotters to send a message to other spotters, but it sure does look like it.
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Old 03-14-2015, 09:37 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Its an intelligence test, UK enthusiasts and airplane spotting in foreign lands.
They can count themselves lucky they weren't shot at by trigger happy guards

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Old 03-14-2015, 09:44 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

Hope their lawyer is correct: (they've been detained now for almost a month)

DUBAI // The lawyer for two Britons arrested on grounds of national security in Fujairah is confident the plane-spotting hobbyists will be released on a reduced charge after the authorities complete their investigations.

Lawyer Naseer Hashem met Conrad Clitheroe, 54, and Gary Cooper, 45, on Thursday at an Abu Dhabi police station, 11 days after their arrest near Fujairah airport on February 22 for taking notes and observing planes.

“The case is still being investigated, but we are hopeful it will be moved from national security to a lesser crime once authorities realise that they were not spying but just practising a hobby,” Mr Hashem said.

“In this hobby, people try to get information about flags, signs, numbers and designs on planes but in many countries there is not much knowledge about it.
“Yes, they should have been better informed about the laws of this country but they had no intention to carry out a crime,” Mr Hashem said.

Mr Clitheroe and Mr Cooper were transferred from a jail in Fujairah to Abu Dhabi along with their friend Neil Munro, a Dubai resident, on Thursday
Mr Munro is being represented by another lawyer.
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Old 03-14-2015, 08:43 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

And to actually think at one time they wanted the QE2 and Concorde to be displayed there. Wanabees.



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Old 03-14-2015, 09:17 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Pff, that's nothing. In China, plane-spotting gets you dead!


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I don't know if this would work in China, but it did work for me in Indonesia. I was invited to visit a RC airplane show in Indonesia by an inlaw, as during the day struck up a conversation with a model airplane collector who was with the TNI, and received a invitation to visit the main naval base (he was one of the men in a senior role there). What I'm saying is if you do some research and let people know you like their airplanes as its your hobby, they might just give you permission to do so and tell security that you are there. A much better approach than just rockin up at the chainwire security perimeter fence unannounced a start taking happy snaps.

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Old 03-18-2015, 11:06 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

Latest Update:

Plane-spotting Britons’ case may open today

Sunday, March 15, 2015
Now in their fourth week of detainment, the families of Conrad Clitheroe, Gary Cooper and Neil Munro have been heavily campaigning for the Manchester residents’ release.
Dubai — Three British nationals arrested in the UAE after being caught plane-spotting in Fujairah remain in custody in the country’s Capital, despite no charges being filed against them. A case, however, is expected to open today.

Now in their fourth week of detainment, the families of Conrad Clitheroe, Gary Cooper and Neil Munro have been heavily campaigning for the Manchester residents’ release, with international media houses continuing to report on the events.
Detained on the grounds of “national security”, the men have been appointed legal advocates by Detained in Dubai - the not-for-profit organisation representing them.

“We are working on their release and hope to have more details on Sunday,” Founder of Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, told Khaleej Times on Saturday.
“A file has not been opened on the men, so they remain uncharged.” In legal cases regarding national security, Stirling said, the system often moves quite slowly, so it is not unusual for suspects to be held without official charge, pending further investigation and background checks.

“We’re expecting that a file will be opened today that will detail whether there are any formal charges,” she said.

Plane spotters Clitheroe and Cooper, both tourists, and Dubai-based expatriate, Munro, were arrested for “suspicious behaviour” on February 21, after an off duty officer spotted the trio taking notes about planes near Fujairah airport.

After being held up in a local prison for nearly two weeks, the three men were transferred to Abu Dhabi where they are currently being detained. Senior advocate Nasser Hashem is now representing both Clitheroe and Cooper.

“We have worked with Mr Hashem since the inception of Detained in Dubai and we are confident in his abilities,” Stirling said.

After visiting the men in prison last week, she said she expects that his intervention will help “expedite” their release.
“Mr Hashem has said that it is ‘not a simple matter’ but he will do everything to ensure that the civil rights of these men are not violated and they are released promptly.”

Since the trio’s arrest, Stirling and her team have called on the UAE government to issue “Do’s and Don’ts” cards on flights to the UAE, including details about not only the laws but the consequences of breaking them in the country, including associated fines, expected detention and jail terms.

“This would parallel the country’s full-on initiatives to attract foreign visitors, vacationers (and) employees,” she said.

In January 2014, three Dutch men were arrested in the UAE for the same reason and in the same location.

They were held for 54 days before being released in March 2014
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:41 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Harry_Bird View Post
I believe even the North Koreans are more sympathetic to spotters then the UAE
They run tours for people who want to fly in their old airplanes... if they don't allow spotting then that wouldn't make much sense
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Old 03-27-2015, 05:43 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

Thank you very much, very useful information!
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Old 05-01-2015, 11:26 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

British plane spotters said to be released from UAE jail
British plane spotters said to be released from UAE jail - Culture & Society - ArabianBusiness.com
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Old 05-26-2015, 10:45 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Default Re: Terrifying story of plane spotters jailed in UAE!

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Originally Posted by FlyingDream View Post

Hi FlyingDream, my apologies for the late reply. I've been on vacation with the family and I am just getting back into the DAC.

I appreciate the update and wondered whatever happened to these gentlemen while I was overseas. Glad to hear they are back with their loved ones. I hope they are not turned off from future plane spotting/their passion; but I'm sure everbody will understand if they'll never be able to look at another plane the same way after their 2month ordeal they had to endure in jail.

"I still can't believe I'm home": Released Dubai planespotter on his two month jail torment - Manchester Evening News
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